Saturday, March 8, 2014

Review: Kinslayer (The Lotus War #2) by Jay Kristoff

Firstly, thanks to Pan Macmillan Australia for this review copy <3

This review contains mild spoilers for Stormdancer but not for Kinslayer

Date Read: August 20 - 27 2013
Release Date: September 1st 2013
Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia
Source: ARC via publisher
Genre: Fantasy
My rating: 

The mad Shōgun Yoritomo has been assassinated by the Stormdancer Yukiko, and the threat of
civil war looms over the Shima Imperium. The Lotus Guild conspires to renew the nation’s broken
dynasty and crush the growing rebellion simultaneously – by endorsing a new Shōgun who desires
nothing more than to see Yukiko dead.

Yukiko and the mighty thunder tiger Buruu have been cast in the role of heroes by the Kagé
rebellion. But Yukiko herself is blinded by rage over her father’s death, and her ability to hear the
thoughts of beasts is swelling beyond her power to control. Along with Buruu, Yukiko’s anchor is Kin,
the rebel Guildsman who helped her escape from Yoritomo’s clutches. But Kin has his own secrets,
and is haunted by visions of a future he’d rather die than see realized.

Kagé assassins lurk within the Shōgun’s palace, plotting to end the new dynasty before it begins.
A waif from Kigen’s gutters begins a friendship that could undo the entire empire. A new enemy
gathers its strength, readying to push the fracturing Shima imperium into a war it cannot hope to
survive. And across raging oceans, amongst islands of black glass, Yukiko and Buruu will face foes no
katana or talon can defeat.

The ghosts of a blood-stained past."


“We will all turn the waters red when we bathe once this is finished.”

Why is this book called Kinslayer? Seriously Kristoff named it wrong. Heartslayer would be more accurate. Because he did just that. Took my heart and slayed it. Slashed it to pieces. Slowly and torturously. And I loved every moment of it. I’ve mentioned I’m a book masochist right?

As the sequel to his stunning 2012 fantasy debut, Kristoff had a lot to live up to. I absolutely adored Stormdancer and I’d never read a fantasy quite like it! So you can imagine my absolute fear when I received Kinslayer in the mail. I mean I was debating whether I should even request a review copy because I was so SCARED. But you know what? Kristoff blew me away. IZANAGI’S BALLS Kinslayer was even better than Stormdancer, how is that possible? My feels were an infinite amount more heightened, my swearing increased exponentially, my laughing progressed to cackling and I 100% mastered my “WTF” face.

Let’s start with our protagonist. Yukiko. Damn this girl is kick-ass! She is so strong, resilient, selfless, brave and at the core just a 16-year-old girl who had her heart broken so WHYYYYY would you put her through so much Kristoff? She took on a LOT in Stormdancer. But Kinslayer? Yukiko goes above and beyond what any heroine needs to face. In the bleakest of times, she doesn’t stop fighting, she keeps persevering and pushing forward despite fates worse than death just a hair breadth away. I loved her growth from Stormdancer, and her continuous growth in Kinslayer.

When Buruu was first introduced in Stormdancer, he was limited to nouns and growls. His growth throughout and into Kinslayer has been amazing. He is now an arashitora that speaks in eloquent sentences, but the most amazing thing is his humanity. There is no denying his care and devotion to Yukiko and their cause. What I adore most about Buruu is his humour. Kristoff has interwoven Kinslayer with Buruu’s humour and sarcasm, giving the book the balance it needs to its sometimes depressing content.


Kristoff introduces some new characters to the story line and also puts more emphasis on the secondary characters as a mechanism to show the events around Shima. There’s Michi, the girl from the Kage who continues the work of the rebellion; there’s Kin who plays a very integral part in this story as he struggles with his Guildsman teachings and wanting to be part of the Kage but always an outcast; and new additions Hana, her brother Yuri and his boyfriend Jurou are three people who completely moved me with their plot lines from the slums of Shima.

“Be it made of scales or brass, a snake who sheds his skin is still a snake.”

One of the things I didn’t like about Stormdancer was the over-flowery language style that I felt went right over my head. Either Kristoff downplayed it in Kinslayer or I’ve grown accustomed to it because I adored the writing in Kinslayer – sophisticated, powerful and so much imagery that accentuated the stunning world-building.

So a rebellion is rising, there’s apparently a new Shogun and rumour has it it’s someone familiar – oh dear – and while all this is happening in a crumbling Shima, Yukiko and Buruu are flying across oceans trying to understand a mystery of their own. Phew, that’s a lot happening in one book; it certainly kept me on the edge of my seat. Wait til you get to the bombshell *cackles* I fell off my seat. I will say no more about the complex and delectable plot!

If you haven’t read Kinslayer yet, READ IT. If you haven’t even heard of Stormdancer… Well, I don’t know you.

“The lotus must burn.”

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